Sen. John McCain: Hillary Clinton Taking ‘Responsibility’ for US Benghazi Consulate Attack “Laudable Gesture”

Here’s a press release from the Republicans on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accepting “responsibility” for the Benghazi attack. It is quite clear, from the tone of the press release that they have no intention whatsoever of pinning this all on Hillary Clinton, if ever. In fact, the senators lay the blame squarely at the feet of President Obama.

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today released the following statement on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments this evening regarding the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012:

“We have just learned that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has claimed full responsibility for any failure to secure our people and our Consulate in Benghazi prior to the attack of September 11, 2012. This is a laudable gesture, especially when the White House is trying to avoid any responsibility whatsoever.

“However, we must remember that the events of September 11 were preceded by an escalating pattern of attacks this year in Benghazi, including a bomb that was thrown into our Consulate in April, another explosive device that was detonated outside of our Consulate in June, and an assassination attempt on the British Ambassador. If the President was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the President informed. But if the President was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the events of September 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any security failures that occurred. The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander-in-Chief. The buck stops there.

“Furthermore, there is the separate issue of the insistence by members of the Administration, including the President himself, that the attack in Benghazi was the result of a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video, long after it had become clear that the real cause was a terrorist attack. The President also bears responsibility for this portrayal of the attack, and we continue to believe that the American people deserve to know why the Administration acted as it did.”

There is so much hypocrisy emanating from the Republican Party at this juncture that I don’t quite know where to begin. They are acting as though there were no embassy attacks under George w. Bush’s watch. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from Dick Cheney soon.

This was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.

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Author: JANET SHAN

  • slamfu

    Wow, I really think they are getting out of hand trying to paint the Benghazi attacks as something much more far reaching than it is. As far as I can tell we were hit by terrorists and everyone wants to turn it into this political fiasco. I think the Obama administrations record on security has been as good as you can ask for under the circumstances. Obviously in 20/20 hindsight you can see what should have been done, but to pile on when we as a nation got attacked and lost people is absurd. I never liked those who think Bush should have seen 9/11 coming because in the ocean of warnings he failed to focus on the one that happened, I blame the terrorists first in these situation. As did the local Libyans who went into action to curb the influence of the local “militias” after the Benghazi attack. We need to rally when things like this happen, not chewing at eachother.

  • ShannonLeee

    slam, I think people were upset at Bush because he and AG Ashcroft moved Bill Clinton’s focus on terrorism to the War on Drugs. Clinton warned Bush numerous times about AQ, but the Bush admin had an “opposite of Clinton” climate in the exec branch.

    …not too mention he was reading a book after the second tower was attacked, but that is all a bit off topic. Bush was terrible and should not be an example of anything but his own failures and Republican obedience, which we are seeing here in this article.

  • slamfu

    I don’t fault Bush at that time in his administration. Even if he did pull resources off of terrorism and onto drug enforcement, at that time that was a judgement call based on the information he had. It could have gone either way. I’m sure on Sept 10th 2001 you could have made a strong case for it either way without sounding like a moron. And of course Bush was still reading a book, but do you think the govt was paralyzed and no one was doing anything? Of course not, the federal beehive was buzzing plenty furiously after the first tower was hit, but it takes time to gather information, and the president is actually pretty removed from that. It was going to take a few hours at least for any kind of useful information to be gathered and presented to the President about what just happened. So I do not fault Bush at that point.

    What I do fault him for is for the things that followed where he did have information and plenty of time to assess and make plans. The invasion of Iraq was done without solid intel, and the follow up was a joke. These are things I fault the Bush administration for, they are the things that showed they simply had no idea what they were doing or getting into.

    I’m sure people after the fact want to get on Bush because of his decisions leading up to 9/11, but frankly that’s standard BS where everyone wants to make sense of a tragedy and try to make it all logical and sensible so we can get our heads around it. The fact remains it was an attack that could only have been predicted perfectly amid the thousands of other threats with 20/20 hindsight. Its a scary world and there is a lot going on, I don’t fault people for being human, making mistakes about guess what will happen next when we are being attacked. I do fault them when we have time to come up with a plan and come up with a really crappy one that gets thousands of people killed and destabilizes the world.

  • adelinesdad

    I don’t believe the embassy attacks during Bush’s term (listed here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorist_attacks_on_U.S._diplomatic_facilities) were nearly as successful as the most recent attack in terms of diplomatic casualties. I could be wrong about that, in which case I hope I’m corrected. It’s not that there was an attack. Attacks are mostly inevitable and outside our direct control. It’s the degree to which it was successful which is the problem.

    But even a successful attack is not a reason to criticize the president, of course. It’s reason to want to figure out how the failure happened, whether it be because of the intelligence, military, or administrative failure, bad luck, or some combination.

    If in the process of doing that follow up, we hear testimony of requests for maintaining the prior level of security (the reports I read are that they included Benghazi) which was denied, that is legitimately concerning. But even that isn’t enough to jump to conclusions. They may have had good reasons. Of course in hindsight there should have been more security, but we can’t expect the state department to predict the future. But it’s reason to ask more question: what were the reasons? Was it a good decision given the information at the time? If it was a bad decision, was it a human error of a systemic error? In any case, the president bears some indirect responsibility.

    But, lastly, we have the administrations response, which was to first assume that this resulted from a video, and then continue talking about the video even after it was clear this was a pre-planned terrorist attack that had nothing to do with protests in other areas. This is disturbing because it suggests that the administration may be too comfortable with a “it’s our fault” theory of terrorism. We can debate how much we should talk about American intolerance of our foreign policy as it relates to terrorism, but it seems clear that the administration took a side on that question which was not based in fact and instead seems to be ideologically based. And that calls into question their competence when it comes to security questions, which is of course a legitimate campaign issue.

    In short, you can point to one thing or the other and say “you can’t blame the president for that”, but when you look at all the pieces I think it does add up to legitimate concern that the administration failed in this instance.

  • http://cma-steadystate.blogspot.com steadystate

    Adelinesdad, I would agree with you if not for the simple fact that in Egypt, on the same day, people were ACTUALLY protesting the YouTube video. Depending on reports, it sounds like there were some that were out protesting the video in Benghazi that may have been pulled into the attack group. Perhaps there was an attack planned for that day already but this group out there protesting created coincidental tactical cover?

    This really comes down to who people WANT to blame. Those who WANT to Obama (generally those who want Romney to win) are finding every which way to find justification to that end. Those who DO NOT WANT to blame Obama (those who generally want Obama to win this November) are doing their damnedest to displace blame from Obama.

    Ultimately, I agree that when a portion of the administration is to blame (i.e. Clinton and the State Dept as accepted by Clinton), then some of that rides up the admin food-chain to the President.

    In the end, what we should be concerned about is:
    a) How did this happen? Let’s paint a clear picture.
    b) How do we prevent this from happening again? What did we know? What didn’t we know?
    c) Go after those who are directly responsible. Period.

    Note: Unless there is DIRECT blame to be had, it’s a waste of taxpayer resources (particularly when you consider the Fiscal Cliff ) to be playing this odious blame-game.

    Those interested in a witch-hunt all want Obama out, so excuse me if I say that I don’t understand what the HUGE deal is here. Seems the GOP is simply trying to find and demagogue any potential scandal they can pin to the President.

    It’s all feigned indignation. If their guy (McCain) was in the White House and this happened (hypothetically assuming that all events transpired the exact same way) they’d hardly be on this “truth hunt” as they are now.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    I don’t know how far you want to go back AD, but on April 18, 19893, during the Reagan presidency, a suicide bomber in a pickup truck loaded with explosives rammed into the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans, eight of whom were employees of the Central Intelligence Agency, including chief Middle East analyst Robert C. Ames and station chief Kenneth Haas.

    Since it was not an Embassy, we won’t “count” the attack on the U.S. Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport six months later killing 241 U.S. Marines and wounding more than 100 (Talk about having precedent, having warning!).

    But that is not the point of my comment, even though you say that “It’s the degree to which it was successful which is the problem,” because this happened so long ago.

    My point is actually to commend you for your evenhanded and reasoned critique of this event and the political aftermath and to agree with you that, yes, the Administration totally botched up the initial public reaction to the tragedy and that we must study this attack (“investigate”), ask questions, learn from it, prevent reoccurrences, etc.

    But I must take exception to the implication that the administration “may be too comfortable with a ‘it’s our fault’ theory of terrorism” and especially with the implication that this one event “calls into question [the administration’s] competence when it comes to security questions”

    That is an awful big jump from a botched PR event to calling into question our government’s national security competence.

    At least, I would ask OBL about that. I would ask all the AQ and Taliban leaders who are now six feet or more under, and — if we could — I would like to ask the SOBs who murdered our Ambassador in Libya about it when they are caught.

    But, yes, national security is a legitimate campaign issue, but based on the Afganistan War, on how well we are handling Iran, Syria, North Korea, on how well we are maintaining a strong military capability, etc. Other than that, I do agree with your assessment.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    That should be April 18, 1983, not 19893,(The attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut)

  • ShannonLeee

    I think there is serious blame to be placed on the President…for his handling of the issue after the fact. We had serious miscommunications coming from his advocates before we had any idea on what was happening. Yes, this was a response to Romney popping off way too early, but Romney isnt the White House and Obama should have waited to have his advocates respond.

    As far as blame for the lack of security…i blame State. Whether the buck stop at Hillary or Obama is a good question. It has to stop somewhere.

    and Slam, when you are told that a second plane has flown into the other tower…any idiot would know what was going on and would politely excuse themselves. but again, that was Bush. I am sure Karl Rove would have known exactly what was going on.

  • dduck

    I am so glad that you guys feel that were McCain President, that Schumer, Reid and Pelosi would be sending him floweres and words of encouragement on his bad luck at this point in the reelection cycle.
    Get REAL with the hypocrisy shrieking; It’s ******** politics.

  • adelinesdad

    steadystate,

    They continued with the video story long after it was known that the attack was pre-planned (see Rice interviews, UN speech, etc). I’ve heard conflicting reports about whether there was a protest at all in Benghazi, with the latest suggesting their wasn’t, but I could be wrong. To continue talking about the video long after it was known that the protests were unrelated I do think backs up the charge that the Obama administration’s first instinct is to consider terrorists as responding to supposed injustices against them. I won’t say for sure that that’s true, but then it’s up to Obama to explain why he continued with that explanation. Maybe it was for political motivations, which isn’t much better. Or maybe there is a completely reasonable explanation, but it’s up to Obama to provide it which he hasn’t.

    I recognize that there are plenty of people out there who want to blame the President for everything they can. But there is the same tendency among some to want to excuse him whenever they can. I won’t pretend to be immune to these tendencies since we all have our biases. But the only thing I can do to attempt to overcome them is make a logical argument, being careful to consider the reasonable counter-argument as I go. That’s what I attempted to do in my first comment.

    With regard to direct vs. indirect responsibility, obviously direct responsibility carries more weight, and this can work to the President’s benefit as well as it does for his decision to go after Bin Laden. However, indirect responsibility still counts. The president, as most executives, is directly responsible for very little. Most of the time, he sets general policies and directions and then those underneath him make the day-to-day decisions. But when something goes wrong, he is still indirectly responsible, which is not the same as not being responsible.

  • adelinesdad

    Dorian,

    Thank you for the compliment. I am trying to be even-handed. Although you recognize that 1983 was a long time ago, I want to say that in 1983 politics was not on my radar. I didn’t know what a radar was.:) I don’t know how much Reagan bears responsibility for those attacks. It probably depends on the circumstances, as it does in this case, which is why I’m getting into the weeds on the circumstances (what was done before-hand, what should have been done, what was the response, etc.).

    I don’t consider this just a botched PR event. When the administration is blaming a video for the attack long after it is known that this was pre-planned before the video became an issue, that’s cause to wonder what is going on. I’ve offered a few explanations: First, he just can’t shake the idea that terrorists attacks are usually a response to American injustice, or second, he didn’t want to take political heat for suffering a successful attack. Either one is cause for concern with regards to how national security is being handled, and is more than just botched PR. I’m open to alternate explanations, though, if one can be found.

    I agree that there are many successes in foreign policy under Obama’s belt. He gets credit for a lot of things, but that doesn’t excuse a failure. In the end we make a decision based on the balance of everything, but that balance has to include this incident also rather than excuses for it.

  • dduck

    Lots of luck, AD, this is a tough partisan crowd, and they have a version of what happened that basically hinges on Obama using the word “terror” in a generic way as the foundation that we were given the straight poop from Rice and later Obama when he mentioned the video six times during his U.N. speech.

    This fig leaf wouldn’t cover a mouse’s privates let alone the whole administration, but it sure works with “some”.

  • adelinesdad

    On a side note on the Bush reading a book issue: Of course if it delayed any kind of important response, Bush shouldn’t have done it. But I don’t imagine that there was some pressing decision to make at that very moment. I imagine the immediate response to something like this is mostly on auto-pilot, but what do I know.

    On the other hand, symbolically I think it was the right thing to do, whether he intended it to be a symbol or not (most likely I think like most of us he didn’t quite know what to do in that immediate moment). The cost of terrorism is not just in the lives lost (there are many more lives lost in other preventable tragedies that we don’t get nearly as worked up about) but it’s in the fear and panic. Terrorists want not just to kill us but to disrupt our lives. By reading the book, he said (intentionally or not) that we aren’t going to be intimidated. It’s debatable how much we’ve lived up to that since then. But the image of him continuing to read the book after being told what was happening is not a negative one, in my mind.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    @AD

    Thanks for your follow-up.

    We’ll have to continue to disagree on the substance of this issue (e.g. how national security is “being handled”), but thanks for your views.

    Just a footnote on what wasn’t on you radar (1983). Let’s move the radar to 2012.

    An attack on our embassy (or consulate) in Timbuktu kills 17 Americans, eight of whom were employees of the Central Intelligence Agency, including its chief Middle East analyst and its station chief.

    Less that six month later another attack on a U.S. installation, also in Timbuktu, kills 241 U.S. Marines.

    Now, I would call that a “failure.”

    I would call that “cause for concern”

    I would say that this would raise questions as how “national security is being handled”

    Wouldn’t you?

  • dduck

    What’s with the Timbuktu DDW.

  • CStanley

    Dorian, my recollection is that the Beirut bombings did raise those questions and were a campaign issue in 1984. Do you concur that they were, and that they should have been?

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    “Dorian, my recollection is that the Beirut bombings did raise those questions and were a campaign issue in 1984. Do you concur that they were, and that they should have been?”

    My recollection is that Reagan was heavily criticized for letting the Marine barracks bombing that killed 241 U.S. Marines take place less than six months after 17 Americans were killed in the same town, in the same country.

    Also, that he was heavily criticized for fleeing Lebanon after our Marines were murdered “because it signaled the country’s weakness in the face of terrorism, and possibly encouraged future terrorists like bin Laden,” according to Stars and Stripes.

    Others contended that Reagan should never have sent troops to Beirut in the first place. “You should never again commit forces to a peacekeeping role unless there is a peace—a truce. We didn’t have that,” said retired Gen. Al Gray, who was commander of the 2nd Marine Division at the time of the bombing and later became Marine Corps commandant, Stars and Stripes writes.

    Others, since then have claimed that

    “Had we stood our ground 25 years ago instead of pulling out after the bombing, it is possible that 9/11 would not have happened. Likewise, anyone who thinks we can pull back into a shell now and hope terrorism will go away simply isn’t looking at the lessons history offers.”

    In an op-ed making similar points, Robert C. McFarlane, who served as national security adviser from 1983 to 1985, calls the American stint in Beirut “one of the most tragic and costly policy defeats in the brief modern history of American counterterrorism operations.” According to McFarlane, the U.S. decision to pull out of Lebanon proved to the terrorists that America folded under attack, and encouraged the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as well as other future attacks against the country. He also critiques the lack of a “clear military mission” in Beirut, and blames Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger for refusing to “undertake military operations that might result in Muslim casualties and put at risk Muslim goodwill.”

  • CStanley

    I take that as a yes to my questions then?

    I’m trying to figure out how you see this in relation to Libya 2012…can you elaborate on that?

    BTW, you didn’t mention one more criticism, which was that Grenada was a wag the dog operation.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    CStanley says:

    I take that as a yes to my questions then?

    The question being:

    Dorian, my recollection is that the Beirut bombings did raise those questions and were a campaign issue in 1984. Do you concur that they were, and that they should have been?

    Absolutely NOT, you can NOT take that as a yes to your question.

    In the first place, I do not believe that the Democratic contenders for the 1984 presidential elections attacked Reagan on the very same day (or the next day, or the next day) as 17 Americans were murdered in the Beirut Embassy bombing or on the very same day (or the next day, or the next day) as 241 Marines were murdered less than six month later in Beirut.

    And, let me repeat:

    My recollection is that Reagan was heavily criticized for letting the Marine barracks bombing that killed 241 U.S. Marines take place less than six months after 17 Americans were killed in the same town, in the same country.
    Also, that he was heavily criticized for fleeing Lebanon after our Marines were murdered “because it signaled the country’s weakness in the face of terrorism, and possibly encouraged future terrorists like bin Laden,” according to Stars and Stripes.

    Others contended that Reagan should never have sent troops to Beirut in the first place. “You should never again commit forces to a peacekeeping role unless there is a peace—a truce. We didn’t have that,” said retired Gen. Al Gray, who was commander of the 2nd Marine Division at the time of the bombing and later became Marine Corps commandant, Stars and Stripes writes.

    Others, since then have claimed that

    “Had we stood our ground 25 years ago instead of pulling out after the bombing, it is possible that 9/11 would not have happened. Likewise, anyone who thinks we can pull back into a shell now and hope terrorism will go away simply isn’t looking at the lessons history offers.”

    In an op-ed making similar points, Robert C. McFarlane, who served as national security adviser from 1983 to 1985, calls the American stint in Beirut “one of the most tragic and costly policy defeats in the brief modern history of American counterterrorism operations.” According to McFarlane, the U.S. decision to pull out of Lebanon proved to the terrorists that America folded under attack, and encouraged the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as well as other future attacks against the country. He also critiques the lack of a “clear military mission” in Beirut, and blames Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger for refusing to “undertake military operations that might result in Muslim casualties and put at risk Muslim goodwill.”

    These are some of the things he was criticized for several month later, during the 1984 presidential campaign. Absolutely no comparison to the Romney/Ryan Issa bunch attacking the President of the United States immediately after a national tragedy.

  • CStanley

    Sorry then, Dorian, I didn’t get that from your first response.

    To me the temporal distinction you are making is ver difficult, especially since campaigns now start so early. In Spring 1983 the campaign had not begun but that wouldn’t be the case today, and of course this event happened much closer to the election.

    I think putting it off limits for that reason is dangerous in that it puts the administration above criticism for a period of time. I do think the quality of the criticism matters though, and should definitely take into account what is known at the time which is generally a different set of information than it would be for an event that had already fully unfolded.

  • adelinesdad

    Dorian,

    To answer the question you asked me, yes, I think your reality-based hypothetical, although it has some differences from the incident we’re talking about here, would qualifies as a failure, a cause for concern, and would call into question how national security is being handled.

    I can’t say whether the specific criticisms you cite were/would be warranted. That depends on the details and broader context which I’m not immediately familiar with.

    I agree that Romney spoke way too quickly and inaccurately (the latter maybe partly because of the former). Although that diminishes his credibility on the issue, it doesn’t disqualifies criticism that comes later, particularly from other people (specifically, I’m not Mitt Romney).

    So how long is an appropriate waiting period? I say criticism should come when it is established that there is grounds for it. That may take years or it make take days, depending on what information is available. In my view there is information that suggests that criticism is warranted, especially as it relates to the misinformation that was perpetuated by the administration long after they should have known better.

    Not to get further into the political weeds, but it seems to me that if it is too early to criticize the administration for anything related to the Benghazi attack, then it ought to also be too early for the administration to say something like that the incident is not a result of failed foreign policy (the exact quote I’m looking for eludes me). If the facts aren’t in yet, then neither side should be drawing conclusions like that. But in reality, some facts are in and some preliminary conclusions and criticisms are warranted.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Hi AD,

    Just a couple of comments, then I will let this go as apparently we are getting nowhere fast. But that is OK, people can disagree honestly, reasonably and amiably.

    First, if we are to get into an informed discussion that involves recent history — such as the Beirut Embassy and Marine barracks attacks — I believe it is not asking too much for the parties to become familiar with the “details and broader context.” While today there are abundant sources and resources for one to do exactly that, I know we do not all have the time or the interest to do that. I have been guilty of that myself many times. I do not find the time or sufficient interest to, for example, thoroughly research economic or fiscal issues.

    Second, I agree with you, “criticism should come when it is established that there is grounds for it,” (emphasis mine) but not, by God, when the bodies of our four Americans slaughtered in Benghazi are not even cold yet. (Sorry for the graphics)

    Finally — this one I feel strongly about — you say:

    Not to get further into the political weeds, but it seems to me that if it is too early to criticize the administration for anything related to the Benghazi attack, then it ought to also be too early for the administration to say something like that the incident is not a result of failed foreign policy (the exact quote I’m looking for eludes me). If the facts are not in yet, then neither side should be drawing conclusions like that. But in reality, some facts are in and some preliminary conclusions and criticisms are warranted.

    The two are absolutely unrelated. Let me explain:

    If the Benghazi attack was in fact — as might be proven by a thorough investigation and not by the opportune political shenanigans of a campaign — the result of some shortcoming on the part of the administration (i.e. not providing adequate security at the Consulate in Benghazi), then by all means, criticize the hell out of them for this specific failure. But to then extrapolate and say that it “is too early” for the administration to defend itself against claims that such a single and perhaps isolated failure is allegedly the result of its “failed foreign policy” (over a four-year period), I believe is a little “stretched.”

    Thanks again.

  • adelinesdad

    Dorian,

    I’m also happy to move on, after a few final responses to your final comments.:)

    First, I’m not opposed to learning about history. You are correct that I don’t have the time right now to research that particular event. But more importantly, whether or not the specific criticisms regarding that 1983 attack were valid or not doesn’t have any bearing on the question of whether the specific criticism in this instance are valid, that I can tell. I might be missing your point, though.

    Second, I’ve already agreed that Mitt’s original response was way too early. My point is that doesn’t take away from the validity of criticisms that were made later, especially by people other than Mitt Romney (ie. me).

    Lastly, my last point was a bit rough around the edges. I still think it’s right but my reasoning is going to be hard to articulate, and in any case it’s not essential to my main point, which is that “some preliminary conclusions and criticisms are warranted.”

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Noted. Thanks

  • dduck

    I believe Carney, Rice and others were emphatic that preliminary (the intelligence so far)conclusions citing the video, were lept at faster than a cat on a mouse.
    Turnaround is fair play.